Paul Matsushima

When a Dream Job Falls Through

By Paul Matsushima | Published on October 12, 2021

A couple of years ago, I felt stuck after a job opportunity that seemed tailor made for me fell through.

This article was originally written for the Faith.Work.Leadership newsletter of Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership.

A couple of years ago, I felt stuck after a job opportunity that seemed tailor made for me fell through. The opportunity was to apprentice at a mochi confectionary shop. Mochi is a Japanese confectionary dessert made of pounded rice and sweetened with a variety of toppings. This position felt like a match made in heaven: Work with my hands all day? Yes please! Learn to run a small business? I’m up for the challenge! Interact with a predominantly Japanese American clientele? That’s my people! And do I love mochi? So much so that I even wrote a children’s book about it! But, sadly, the opportunity didn’t pan out. At the time, I felt despondent because this position seemed to promise me something that so far had alluded me: to find deeper meaning and a sense of enthusiastic pride in and through my work.

At the time, I felt despondent because this position seemed to promise me something that so far had alluded me: to find deeper meaning and a sense of enthusiastic pride in and through my work.

Fast forward to today, where I no longer feel despondent, but instead a sense of peace. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one helpful voice has been author Michaela O’Donnell’s. In her new book, Make Work Matter, she talks about dysfunctional beliefs that many of us believe when it comes to work and calling. Some of them are: 1) passion is the holy grail of work; 2) we are what we do; and 3) it all happens right away. While I won’t spoil the ins and outs of these dysfunctional beliefs (you should read the book yourself!), I see how they played into my hopes for a mochi apprenticeship position. These beliefs governed my hopes and expectations for what meaningful and purposeful work was. So, when things didn’t work out, I believed (incorrectly!) that my work did not matter.

These beliefs governed my hopes and expectations for what meaningful and purposeful work was. So, when things didn’t work out, I believed (incorrectly!) that my work did not matter.

It’s been a process. But, I’m grateful for the ongoing realization and invitation to embrace where God has me, and that I can find deep meaning in things like project management software and excel spreadsheets.

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